January is a favorite time to set new goals, to create new resolutions, to think about all the things you haven't been doing but should be. Most of us create resolutions that are fairly vague. They're usually about things we want to get done during the year, but more often than not we have zero to little structure around the ways in which we might accomplish these goals. If your goal is weight loss (perennial favorite), for instance, you'd be best to go about it by starting a regular workout schedule, eating better, and all the rest. But how much easier would this be if you hired a personal trainer and chef to keep you on track? A lot. Most of us don't have the money to hire other people to help us see us through our goals, but there are smaller things you can be doing to follow through with the things you want to accomplish this year.
First, I encourage you to go beyond goal-setting. New year's resolutions need to be more than a goal. They need to have some kind of energy attached to them. They require passion. Or they just won't get done. Setting an intention is going a step beyond goal-setting. It's seeing yourself in that next phase. It's visualizing yourself achieving the goal and being in a new place, a step or two beyond where you are now.
One you've done the visualization and figured out where you want to be, consider getting into group settings that encourage you, that help you bring your intention into a more public space. You can do this by joining a group. If you're a writer and you don't already have a writing group, join one. Go to workshops. There are day-long workshops and weekend workshops on every topic under the sun. One of my own personal goals for 2008 is to hold four workshops. Beyond that, I want to attend at least that many. I kicked off this year by attending a David Whyte weekend at Mount Madonna Center last weekend. David's weekend promised to illuminate the invisible. It's important to take time away from your routine, to join others in a space that celebrates getting in touch with your inner intentions and your inner greatness. Sometimes spending a weekend outside of the pressures that you're feeling just to start, to be creative, and to get going with your goals is exactly the thing you need to allow the space for those things to happen.
Lastly, set up accountabilities. I believe that the best accountability system out there is actually having a coach who you're talking to on a regular basis, checking in with about whether you're on track with your own goals. But if you're struggling with the idea of whether you need or want a coach, then consider telling people (someone you trust to hold you to your commitment) your goals or your intentions and asking them to check in with you about it from time to time. It's a baby step toward more intense accountability, but it's a good start. And it might help you realize the value of accountability. There's a reason why lessons work. You have a lesson and the teacher expects you to practice during the week. If you never practice and there's no progress then the teacher will expect answers. You might start questioning why you're taking lessons in the first place. Every goal you're serious about, therefore, should be treated as something you'd be willing to take a lesson in, to have a teacher hold you to your intention to make progress.
If you're serious about tackling a new project or creating an ongoing writing practice, I encourage you to start with step one and move through to step three, or to tackle all of these over the course of this year. It'll change your life. I promise.
Until next month.